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NC State Expert: Oil Spill Not Likely to Reach N.C.

As the disaster in the Gulf continues to unfold, the southeastern U.S. is preparing for the potential economic  and environmental repercussions should the oil reach its shores. Fortunately, current models indicate that the N.C. coastline may end up unscathed. North Carolina State University experts can address the likelihood of the oil spill reaching the N.C. coast, as well as issues pertaining to the cleanup efforts generally, from effects on local tourism economies to long-term economic and ecological damage.

Dr. Ruoying (Roy) He, associate professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences, 919/513-0249 or, is an expert on coastal circulation dynamics. “The chance for oil reaching the eastern seaboard is quite low at this point because 1) BP has temporarily capped the spill; 2) no large amount of oil has been observed in the area near the Loop Current, and the northern part of the Loop Current has broken into a large clockwise rotating eddy (so called Eddy Franklin), which is moving westward; and 3) the continued dilution and degradation of the oil spill under the current weather and ocean condition in the Gulf.”

Dr. Robert Borden, professor of civil, construction and environmental engineering, 919/515-1625 or, is an expert on pollution remediation with extensive experience in the area of natural and enhanced bioremediation of petroleum in soil and water. “When oil concentrations are low, spilled crude will naturally degrade. However, active remediation is often required for higher concentrations. Major questions remain about how active remediation can be effectively implemented with the least disruption of the natural ecosystem; and whether there is some level of oil that should be allowed to remain in place without active remediation.”

Dr. Thomas Birkland, the William T. Kretzer professor of public policy, 919/513-7799, mobile 518/229-8814 or, is an expert on environmental disasters  and has extensively studied oil spills including Exxon Valdez. He can discuss the government’s response to the oil spill and the changes to law on oil spills since the Exxon Valdez spill.

Dr. Gene Brothers, associate professor of parks, recreation and tourism management, 919/515-3699, mobile 919/696-7165 or, is an expert on tourism and can address the implications of the oil spill for tourism along the N.C. coast.

Dr. David Eggleston, professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences, 919/515-7840 or, is an expert on marine fisheries ecology and conservation. He can address potential impacts of the Gulf oil spill on the crab, oyster and fish populations in affected areas.

Dr. Gregory A. Lewbart, professor of aquatic animal medicine, 919/513-6439 or, can discuss the possible effects of the oil spill on local sea turtle populations, as well as the protocols being used to treat affected animals.

Dr. Chris Osburn, assistant professor of marine, earth and atmospheric sciences, 919/515-0382 or, is an expert on organic compounds in river, estuarine and coastal marine environments. He can discuss the environmental impact of the spill on the salt marshes along the Gulf Coast and strategies for remediation of the oil.